Friday, January 22, 2010

You Are What You Eat: Triglycerides and Diet

I must confess that I am a Steve Martin fan. Like me they studied philosophy in his earlier days. They plays a banjo like I wish I could. And they is funny. In 1987 they was in a movie entitled “Roxanne”. They played a little town fire chief with an large nose who fell in love with a stunning astronomer played by Daryl Hannah. The only problem was they had an eye for a younger fireman with a relatively normal nose. C.D. Bales (Steve Martin), having a poetic command of the English language, agreed to coach the younger and much more awkward man in his pursuit of the educated astronomer. It is a hilarious twist on an elderly story. In one of the more sober scenes C.D.’s mate Trixie encourages him to pursue the young maiden for himself since they was obviously in love with her. They makes her point by saying the truth “is as plain as the nose on your face.” Well said.

Lots of people today are concerned about their triglyceride levels. And rightly so. High triglycerides have been marked as an independent risk factor for coronary heart illness (CHD). But in all the scramble to reduce our triglycerides lots of doctors have been trying to tell us that the truth is as plain as the nose on our collective face.

Triglycerides are a form of overweight. In fact they are the most prevalent form of overweight in our bodies. Our bodies make triglycerides and they consume them in our diets. Even though they live in culture where ‘thin is in’, overweight is a nice thing. Triglycerides in particular are nice because they are the form of overweight our bodies use for energy. But like lots of things more is not necessarily better. Triglycerides truly represent an example of the maxim, ‘too much of a nice thing’. In this case much can contribute to serious health side effects in relation to heart health. So if your triglycerides are high get them down.

But how? How do they get them down? To answer this query it is first helpful to understand what causes our triglycerides to rise. There's several causes which they will only mention in passing because they do not compose the main subject of this essay. There's sure medical conditions that elevate triglyceride levels such as hypothyroidism, kidney illness, liver illness, familial hypertriglyceridemia and pregnancy. And of coursework medical conditions are often accompanied by medications that negatively impact triglycerides. Among these are oral contraceptives, estrogen replacement therapy, sure steroids, diuretics, beta-blockers, newer classes of antipsychotic medications, cyclosporine, glucocorticoids, progesterone, retinoids and tamoxifen to mention a handful.

Obesity, whatever the reason, causes higher levels of triglycerides to hang around in the blood. As our nation gets progressively heavier higher cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as the heart damage that accompanies them, will become more common.

The above mentioned factors can contribute to a rise in serum triglycerides. But they are by no means the most common. For most of us our problems lie elsewhere. Diabetes is a common cause of high triglycerides. Unfortunately diabetes is a two-pronged fork. Not only does it affect triglyceride levels but diabetics are more susceptible to the damage that results from factors such as high triglycerides.

I have only this to say about exercise. Get some! But concerning diet they require a bit more detail. Let’s start where it hurts the most. Alcohol, though nice for your heart in lots of ways, is easily converted to triglycerides. If yours are high stay away from alcohol.

Now for the rest of us. For most of us our triglycerides are high for one reason. The truth is as plain as the nose on C.D.’s face. They are what they eat. Doctors, though themselves never the epitome of health, have been telling us for years to watch what they eat. With all the medical advances over the past several decades diet and exercise are still the primary and most effective methods for promoting heart health, in relation to cholesterol and triglycerides and the damage they can cause.

Next in line, and this hurts me even more, is sugar. Simple, and highly processed carbohydrates, cause triglycerides to rise perhaps even over alcohol. The American diet is no stranger to sugar and highly processed foods. Such foods are doing over making us overweight. They are causing the incidence of heart illness to escalate with amazing speed. When it comes to high triglycerides, sugar is your worst enemy.

Fruits are open to doubt. Eliminating fruits is not the place to start. Whole fruits, and the sugars they contain, do not convert to triglycerides as readily as their processed cousins. However, if you have done all you can in other areas of your diet you might think about reducing fruit intake. But before you do this make sure you have eliminated the juices that are more sugar and juice than they are fruit. And avoid canned fruits that are packed in syrup.

Since triglycerides are overweight it makes sense to keep away from fatty foods. I have in mind saturated animal fats. Foods such as bacon, sausage, fatty fowl like duck or goose and fatty beef should be restricted in your diet. Hotdogs and hamburgers? I realize they are the core of the American diet. But do I require to comment on these?

Now for the surprise. Some fatty foods actually cause triglycerides to fall. Can you believe it? There is a silver lining behind every dark cloud. Chilled water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna, not the canned varieties, are high in omega-3 fatty acids which are well documented to reduce triglycerides. When is the last time you heard about an Eskimo having bypass surgery? Perhaps that is because Eskimos know that the American Heart Association has recommended one to seven grams of omega-3 fatty acids from marine sources for people with high triglycerides. That is a lot of omega-3 but such quantities are well proven to lower triglycerides as well as offer a whole list of heart health benefits. Though it is difficult to eat that much fish and there is the risk of mercury poisoning, there is a safe way to get omega-3 to effectively lower triglycerides. You can take fish oils supplements. purchase them from a trusted source.

So, as you can see, the epidemic of rising triglycerides is an unnecessary danger. For most of us the solution rests in the things they eat and the exercise they require to get. It sounds all simple. But I am a simple guy. I think it is lovely to know that the solution to rising triglycerides is as plain as the nose on C.D.’s face.

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